posted on December 26, 2001 06:59
By Paula Peters
Staff Writer - Cape Cod Times
Wednesday, December 26, 2001
HEIRLOOM JEWELRY A GEM OF A CHRISTMAS GIFT TO STORE THAT CREATED IT TWO CENTURIES AGO
HARWICH PORT - With the season of giving behind us, now it is all about the returns. But at least one Cape merchant is delighted to take back a gift sold nearly 200 years ago. The 1-carat diamond ring was actually given back to Monahan & Co. Ltd. Jewelers as a Christmas present by the descendants of the man who originally purchased it from the company’s founder.
“We are very happy to take it back,” said Michael O’Neill Monahan, who owns and operates the store founded by his great-great-grandfather. He said Albert Mcgee entered Jeremiah Monahan’s Worcester store on the day it opened in 1815 and commissioned the jeweler to create a ring with one large diamond in the middle, flanked by a cluster of three smaller ones on each side. (The weight of the stones totals 1 carat.)
Mcgee gave the ring to his wife to celebrate their 15th anniversary, and it remained in the family for 186 years. “This is probably the first ring (Jeremiah Monahan) ever created and sold,: said Michael Monahan, examining the ring Christmas Eve through a gold loupe to look for the authenticating mark. Inside the delicate 18-karat gold band he found the stamp “Monahan & Company.”
The ring originally sold for $75 and its value would be appraised at more than $5,000 today, but Monahan calls it a “priceless” heirloom of two families. Fortunately for Monahan, who says he has a “liberal return policy,” the Mcgee family was not looking for its money back. They did have two stipulations however: that the ring never be sold and that it remain on display for public viewing.
The Mcgee descendants prefer to remain anonymous but, according to Monahan, they decided to return the ring because of its historic significance and because the store is still operated by members of the founding family.
Monahan, the fourth generation of his family to run the company, moved the store to Main Street in Harwich Port in 1980. Last year, he received a proclamation from then Gov. Paul Cellucci on the 185th anniversary of the store, deeming it “America’s oldest jewelry store.”
He says the ring will be on display in his Harwich Port store with several other historic pieces.